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What Are The Best Starter Credit Cards? 6 Options For Those New To Credit

Applying for your first credit card is a major milestone in the financial lifespan of any individual. If you're a young adult, undergraduate, or just someone who has never had a credit card before, it's easy to feel lost at sea when you've got to pick one card out of 200+ options. After all, the consumer is left having to parse through APRs, annual fees, rewards, transaction fees – the list goes on and on. So where do you begin? We have compiled this guide so that people starting out on their credit journey can make informed decisions in their first credit card.

Best Starter Credit Cards For...

The Best Starter Credit Cards

The following are some of the best credit cards available to first time credit card applicants – from college students to consumers with bad credit.

Best Credit Card for First Timers

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.99% - 23.99%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.99% - 23.99%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
APR
14.99% - 23.99% Variable
Credit Needed
Fair

Our Thoughts

The Discover it® Student Cash Back is one of the best first credit cards you can apply for. The thing that makes this card standout among all similar offers is that it doesn't penalize you for having a limited credit history. The cash back rewards you get from this card are on par with the top offers available to seasoned credit card users. You get 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Furthermore, for new cardmembers, Discover will double all the cash back you receive at the end of your first year. That effectively makes the card's rewards rate at at least 2% during that first year. This is a level of savings that can’t be matched, especially not by other starter credit cards.

As with all Discover credit cards, the Discover it® Student Cash Back allows cardholders to track their FICO® score. This can be an invaluable asset, especially for a first credit card. Monitoring and tracking your credit score can help inform your future lending decisions. You will also be able to get a sense of how your financial behavior impacts your credit score. For example, when you charge up your credit card to the brink of its limit, you score may go down. Seeing these types of things in action can help Discover it® Student Cash Back cardholders establish a firm understanding of credit.

Highlights

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Discover matches all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year - automatically. Only for new cardmembers
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
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Best Starter Credit Card for Recent Graduates

On Capital One's Secure Website

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®

  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One and is not part of our independent analysis.

  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app
Annual Fee
$0
APR
24.99% (Variable)
Credit Needed
Average, Fair, Limited

Our Thoughts

The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® is a fantastic starter credit card, especially for students who love to travel abroad. Most U.S. credit cards charge a fee whenever they are used on foreign soil. The Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® waives these charges and allows people to simply use their card whenever they travel, fee-free. This is a good option for students who are studying abroad and want to have an emergency card to supplement their budget.

Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® users earn 1% cash back on all their purchases, and 1.25% whenever you pay on time. While you can get a higher rewards rate through other beginner credit cards, this is a good option for people with non-standard spending habits. Most other cards typically provide you with rewards on things like travel, grocery stores or restaurants. If you tend to shop at other types of establishments, this card can be significantly more beneficial than the other cards on this list.

Highlights

  • No annual fee
  • 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • No foreign transaction fee

Best Starter Credit Cards for Those With No Credit History

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Secured

INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
  • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
  • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
APR
24.99% Variable
Credit Needed
Please refer to issuer's website

Our Thoughts

The Discover it® Secured is designed for people with no credit or bad credit, making it a good first credit card for most people. Despite that, this card doesn't pull any punches when it comes to rewards. Unlike most secured credit card users, Discover it® Secured users can earn cash back for their purchases. You get 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% back on everything else.

The only catch behind this credit card is the fact that you must put down a security deposit to open an account. This is used as collateral by the issuer, in case you don't pay back your balance. That is a standard feature of all secured credit cards. Your credit limit on the card will be equal to however much you deposit. The minimum required deposit on this card is $200.

Highlights

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • Reports to all 3 major credit bureaus

Best Starter Credit Cards for Young Adults

On Bank of America's Secure Website

BankAmericard Travel Rewards® for Students

25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days - that can be a $250 statement credit towards travel purchases
  • 25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening - which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Redeem points to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees with no restrictions or blackouts
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Smart chip technology provides greater acceptance and added security
  • No limits or expiration dates on points earned
  • 25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening - which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Redeem points to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees with no restrictions or blackouts
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Smart chip technology provides greater acceptance and added security
  • No limits or expiration dates on points earned
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
APR
16.74% - 24.74% Variable
Credit Needed
Fair

Our Thoughts

Young adults with limited credit history should consider applying for the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® for Students, especially if they are interested in travel. The card provides a solid 1.5 points per dollar, anywhere you shop. What makes this card ideal for travel lovers is the fact that you don't get charged any foreign transaction fees. You can take it all over the world, without incurring the standard 3%/5% fee most other credit cards. Cardholders can also earn a 20,000-point bonus if they make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days. We estimate that bonus to be worth roughly $200.

The BankAmericard Travel Rewards® for Students can be especially great for those who have an existing Bank of America deposit account. If you have one open right now, you can get a 10% bonus to your rewards. Depending on your level of BofA Preferred membership, you can get between a 25% and 75% bonus. If you qualify for the 75%-bump, not only will that make the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® for Students a decent starter card, it will probably be the best card for you to own for years to come.

Highlights

  • No Annual Fee
  • 1.5% rewards rate on all purchases
  • 20,000-point bonus for all of those who spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening

Best Starter Credit Card for Recent Graduates

On Bank of America's Secure Website

BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ for Students

$100 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • 0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.
  • 0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
APR
13.24% - 23.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent

Our Thoughts

The BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ for Students is an excellent card for earning cash back on some of the most basic expenses that students and recent graduates face. The card offers 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for the first $2,500 in combined purchases each quarter. The card will earn you 1% cash back everywhere else with no limits. The card’s points don’t expire, meaning that low spenders benefit from this card.

Those consumers who are carrying a balance on an existing card, or who’ll be incurring moving costs, will find this card helpful. Currently, the card features a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 statement closing dates following the opening of your account. The 0% intro APR allows you to carry a balance on the card or make purchases without being charged interest for the introductory period. This can provide breathing room for people who are just exiting school. Given that the card offers a $150 bonus and no annual fee, any recent graduate would benefit from having this card.

Highlights

  • No annual fee
  • $150 cash rewards bonus after making at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening
  • 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings account.
  • BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card Review.

Best Starter Credit Card for Immigrants

On Celtic Bank's Secure Website

Deserve® Edu Mastercard For Students

  • 1% unlimited cash back on All purchases
  • Deserve will pay for Amazon Prime Student, get free Video, Music, and Reading ($49.99 value)
  • Up to a $5,000 credit line
  • $0 annual fee
  • No security deposit or co-signer required
  • Builds credit history
  • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted
  • Includes Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Price Protection, Travel
  • Assistance, ID Theft Protection, Car Collision Damage Waiver & Extended Warranty
  • 1% unlimited cash back on All purchases
  • Deserve will pay for Amazon Prime Student, get free Video, Music, and Reading ($49.99 value)
  • Up to a $5,000 credit line
  • $0 annual fee
  • No security deposit or co-signer required
  • Builds credit history
  • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted
  • Includes Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Price Protection, Travel
  • Assistance, ID Theft Protection, Car Collision Damage Waiver & Extended Warranty
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
APR
20.24%
Credit Needed
Poor

Our Thoughts

Those who recently immigrated to the United States don't have a wealth of options when it comes to credit cards. Luckily, the Deserve® Edu Mastercard For Students is a fairly decent option. This card doesn't require you to have a Social Security credit card to apply, unlike most other U.S. based cards. Instead, you just need to have a passport, an H1B or L1 Visa, and some bank account information. You can then use the Deserve® Edu Mastercard For Students to build your credit score. That makes it the ideal starter credit card for those who are new to the United States. You can use it to build up your card report, and then eventually apply for a better rewards card.

Highlights

Compare Credit Cards Based On Your Spending

You can enter your general spending habits into our tool below to help determine which credit cards will provide you with the highest rewards. Since credit cards are a highly personalized financial tool, it is possible that your spending habits will make one of these other cards more valuable to you. You can use the tool below to find out which one will match your spending the best.

Assumptions Based On Monthly Spend of: $1,430 Edit
General:
U.S. Gas Stations:
U.S. Supermarkets:
Airlines:
Hotel:
U.S. Restaurants:
Office:
Utilities:
Computing:
Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s welcome bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any welcome bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card and on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

BankAmericard Travel Rewards® for Students
No Annual Fee 2.23%
$250
25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days - that can be a $250 statement credit towards travel purchases
$765
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 51,480 x $0.01 = $515
Bonuses
25,000 x $0.01 = $250
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 765

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 16.74% - 24.74% Variable

Card Details

  • 25,000 bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of your account opening - which can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Redeem points to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees with no restrictions or blackouts
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Smart chip technology provides greater acceptance and added security
  • No limits or expiration dates on points earned
Discover it® Student Cash Back
$0 1.50%
$171
Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
$514
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
171 x $1 = $171
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 514

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 14.99% - 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants or Amazon.com up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 14.99% - 23.99%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Discover it® Secured
$0 1.50%
$171
INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
$514
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
171 x $1 = $171
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 514

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 24.99% Variable

Card Details

  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
  • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ for Students
No Annual Fee 1.29%
$100
$100 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
$443
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $100
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 443

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 13.24% - 23.24% Variable

Card Details

  • 0% APR for the first 12 billing cycles and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.
Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One®
$0 1.00%
$0
$343
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 343

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 24.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • Enjoy no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Get a head start and build your credit with responsible use
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One® and is not part of our independent analysis.

Deserve® Edu Mastercard For Students
No Annual Fee 1.00%
$0
$343
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.01 = $343
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 343

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 20.24%

Card Details

  • 1% unlimited cash back on All purchases
  • Deserve will pay for Amazon Prime Student, get free Video, Music, and Reading ($49.99 value)
  • Up to a $5,000 credit line
  • $0 annual fee
  • No security deposit or co-signer required
  • Builds credit history
  • Use anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted
  • Includes Mastercard Platinum Benefits like Price Protection, Travel
  • Assistance, ID Theft Protection, Car Collision Damage Waiver & Extended Warranty

How do I Pick a Credit Card?

In the broadest sense, credit cards can be broken down into one of two camps: rewards and non-rewards. You should prefer rewards cards if you are someone who knows they can pay off your balance at the end of each month in full. Rewards credit cards increase the value of each transaction involving them, by returning to you a certain percentage of the money you spend in the form of points or cash back. Non-rewards cards are generally reserved for those who need financial help – these cards focus on low APR, and extending credit to those who need it.

Which type of credit card is best for a first time applicant? Your first credit card should be a rewards card. If you don't plan on paying off your balances in full each month, we suggest reconsidering getting a credit card in the first place. The exception, of course, being those consumers who are in desperate need of credit. If you're in this kind of situation, a good 0% intro APR card is a good choice for most first time applicants.

Your next choice would be between the type of rewards card to get: hotel, airline, travel, or cash back? If you don’t want to deal with being rewarded in the form of travel rewards (airline tickets, hotel stays, etc.) we recommend going with a good cash back credit card. You will be awarded statement credit that'll pay down your bill at the end of each month, essentially acting as a discount on your purchases.

Those of you who travel at least once a year should opt for a travel card. Hotel credit cards offer the best average rewards, and airline cards are your best bet for getting the best bonuses. If you want better value on general everyday spending we recommend going with a general travel rewards card. These offer slightly lower rewards rates, but make up for that by giving you better returns on things like grocery, dining and gas purchases.

Other Important Considerations

What is the minimum age required to apply for a credit card? You need to be at least 21 years old in order to freely apply for a credit card. If you are between 18 and 21 years old, you will need to have a parent or guardian co-sign on your application. Alternatively, if you have a job you can submit your paystubs to prove financial independence and your ability to pay down credit card bills. Otherwise, other credit cards will require you to put down a security deposit that your line of credit will be based off of.

Is it possible to have a FICO score without ever having had a credit card? Yes. The Fair Isaac Corporation has recently announced the implementation of a new model for calculating credit scores – aimed at providing a score to underbanked consumers. This new model will take into account telecommunication and utility payment history, as well as how often you’ve changed addresses. A new model like this opens up the possibility for consumers who are applying for their first credit card, to have more options than the traditional ‘0 credit history required’ cards.

Additionally, if you have a student loan that you’ve been paying off, you already have a credit score of some sort. This might qualify you for slightly better credit cards. You should review other options and consult with a banker.

Can I get a credit card with no credit history? It is entirely possible to get approved for a credit card with no prior credit history. Student credit cards such as the Discover it® Student Cash Back or Journey® Student Rewards from Capital One® are designed with someone with no FICO score in mind. However, if you've never looked at it, you should not assume you have no FICO score. We recommend you request a free one from this link. You are entitled to one free credit report per year.

Your chances of getting a credit card with no history increase if you apply with a bank you are already in business with. If you have a savings or checking account, most bankers will try to get you approved for a credit card if you speak with them. They can usually pull some strings when calling up their credit department. Just be careful that you don’t agree to some awful terms in the process. Getting a credit card is not worth dealing with substandard terms and conditions.

Why is a first credit card important? Unlike your first car, your first credit card is an item you should hope to hold onto for a lifetime. The length of credit history accounts for 15% of your total FICO score. Your FICO score is negatively affected when you cancel your first open line of credit - more so than cancelling cards you get down the line. This is why it’s especially important to make right decision when choosing your first card. You don’t want to hold onto a card you don’t want.

Source:
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Comments and Questions

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Info about the following cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

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